The Mission of NatureCITE is to conduct taxonomic and ecological research; to promote science-based management of natural systems; and to engage the public through outreach and education.
1. Conduct and disseminate applied ecological research. Too many management practices are dislocated from direct research. Research and management should co-occur at the site level in order to ensure the efficacy of the management, to improve management and to better understand ecological systems at as many organismal and abiotic levels as possible. There is also a dire need to conduct detailed research regarding the real limits and viable directions in which conservation ecology and land management are applicable and relevant in a modern landscape. The intent of NatureCITE is to match applied science with modern problems to solve site specific issues in an ecologically relevant manner.
2. Conduct detailed taxonomic research focusing primarily on North American taxa from a field perspective; but also incorporating theoretical and molecular techniques where applicable. Modern systematics research is primarily invested in two areas, 1) the collection, documentation and classification of undescribed species in unexplored regions of the world and 2) the molecular systematics of taxa almost exclusively above the level of species. Around the vacuum of these themes, there is a dire need for deeper resolution of the relationships of species in our own backyard and a need to direct the application of this knowledge toward product-driven goals of conservation and ecology. Such investigations and applications are desperately needed for most North American taxa. If we don't know all the species in an area, how can we effectively protect the rare ones? If we don't know the ecological needs of rare species and communities, how can we protect them? This avenue of research will span the current chasm between evolution and ecology.
3. Putting ecological awareness and knowledge into the hands of the public. This initiative has two areas of focus. First, by working with and educating private landowners we can expand ecologically sound management practices beyond the limits of publicly owned properties. Second, by investing in community level outreach and education, the general public can better build and foster a personal connection with, and appreciation of, ecological and taxonomic relationships at a regional level. It is increasingly clear that the maintenance of functioning ecological systems will require a greater awareness of scientifically sound practices in the hands of a politically empowered populace.
4. Giving scientists the reins. Answers to ecological problems are limited by the time and energy that skilled scientists can dedicate to them. Too many of our most talented scientists are being inhibited by obligations that distract them from their full potential. This is currently a tremendous hindrance to progress in the fields above and ultimately disrupts or mutates the speed and accuracy of solutions to ecological problems. Therefore, finding and funding talented scientists interested in the greater goals of NatureCITE will be of a major focus and will ultimately feedback positively into the organization and to society at large.
Living things and the systems they create are exceptional because only they can pause or slow down the entropy of a universe careening toward thermodynamic death; decay, disorder and chaos. Only life can create and sustain perpetual complexity. Life is life-affirming.
From the perspective of thermodynamics, organisms are self-replicating manifestations of organized energy. Through photosynthesis energy is transferred from the sun to plants and phytoplankton and cascaded through complex food webs, thus feeding all non-photosynthetic lifeforms. Evolution is the process by which the functional mechanics of this energy modify populations of organisms over time.
The intricacies inherent to evolution, co-evolution, community structure, and irreducibility – this realness – instill a lattice of organized ecological complexity and functionality to natural systems in which energy efficiency is maximized. “Waste” feeds into subsidiary systems of order that are filled as stability increases over time; the creation of niche space. In this way entropy is paused or decelerated. Thus, biodiversity, stability and sustainability are all products and characteristics of ecological complexity. Where ecological complexity is celebrated and encouraged, life thrives. Where it is exploited, it dissipates into chaos and waste. An inherent moral integrity underpins the truth of these dynamics.
Modern human resource extraction and alterations of natural systems shatter the lattice of ecological complexity leaving simplified systems of weeds, anachronistic fragments of communities, and a spiritually vacuous anthroscape. With the induction of these states of degradation and chaos, energy efficiency is substantially reduced, “waste” further adds to stochasticity, and entropy is accelerated. One could liken this to The Nothing in the movie The Never Ending Story, in the sense that it is the unconscionable destruction and dismantling of a complex and rich existence; it just so happens to be our reality and not Fantasia. Put another way, destabilized systems are closer to a state of non-existence in their simplicity than complex systems. They are the antithesis of the complex, interwoven, thermodynamically stable communities that cradle and foster the great lattice of life which exemplifies the fullest possible expression of reality. This understanding gets one closer to the reality of natural processes and natural laws, from molecules in cells to the Earth itself. With this realization, one can more fully appreciate the phenomena of organisms and the ecological systems they orchestrate.
NatureCITE’s prime directive is to defend ecological stability on as many fronts as possible. We do this in two major ways; 1) by investigating and describing how complex evolutionary and ecological systems function together, and 2) by finding ways to integrate evolutionary and ecological systems with human culture toward maximized ecological complexity and function. Without modifying human culture, there is no hope of sustaining an intact natural system in perpetuity.
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